Babirye no longer your ordinary party popper

Monday November 30 2020
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Innocent Ndawula


Three is a crowd and Martha Babirye could go unnoticed in such a setting because of her small physique. Yet, she has continuously refused to be an anecdote everywhere she has gone.
Before golf, her first ‘loves’ were soccer, tchoukball, rugby and cricket. But it was always going to be golf after she found out that swinging a club was easier than the heavier wood-made cricket willow.
Six years ago, Babirye made a rookie appearance at Jinja Golf Club. Her now little-known twin brother Matthew Kato and other caddies took her under their wings. 

In 2016, she made her Uganda Open debut and managed a top 10 finish, 2017 saw her make a cameo appearance in the pressure group en route to a commendable seventh-place and she agonisingly finished second as Tanzanian Neema Olomi stole thunder in 2018. 
From being a little-fancied outsider, she now stands tall as a two-time Uganda Ladies Open champion after her feat on Saturday saw her rally to eclipse Tooro-bred Peace Kabasweka by two strokes with rounds of 81, 77 and 78 at Kitante. 

The glance around the gallery during the final round offered one insight. Most of them weren’t even rooting for affable Irene Nakalembe. Babirye only had a handful of supporters, including husband David Plenderleith and Bill Patricks – who has paid Babirye’s green fees since 2017. 
Yes, you guessed right - the gallery belonged to two-day leader Kabasweka. It was justifiable. Sport is always hungry for new champions. But Babirye dared to dream differently; unleashing some admirable fighting spirit to emerge top – thanks to two birdies. 

Later she spoke of her desire to catch up with her idol Flavia Namakula (five titles).  Babirye may not be saying it out loud for now but it is evident that she silently demands acceptance and due recognition in the golfing circles. 
In sport, there is no shortcut; more podium finishes will make her invincible.